Plea to protect Sidmouth’s Pennington Point

SIDMOUTH business leaders pleaded for “urgent” protection of crumbling Pennington Point when planning chiefs plotting the future of the area met on Tuesday.

The chairman of the town’s chamber of commerce told East Devon District Council (EDDC) Local Development Framework Panel (LDF) members that the economic case for intervention was “overwhelming”.

Richard Eley said in a report that “alarming” rates of erosion had left Alma Bridge and Cliff Road homes under threat.

“Even more seriously, there is considerable concern the loss of Pennington Point will expose the whole of eastern town to the risk of inundation from a south-easterly storm,” he added.

Mr Eley slammed “shoddy” and “abysmal” research previously commissioned by EDDC and argued rapid erosion at Pennington Point “is clearly not a natural process” – but a result of rock groynes near the other end of the town’s beach.

“It’s a man-made phenomenon. A problem that we have created and are under a clear obligation to correct,” he added.

The LDF Panel this week focused on the environment as part of a comprehensive research exercise before a firm set of proposals are drawn up in the autumn.

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The panel was united in its support for environmental protection and members believed such themes will need to run through the new local plan “like a golden thread”.

Panel chairman, Councillor Mike Allen, said that while coastal erosion would be a “significant consideration” in the plan, it wasn’t possible for members to look at specific landmarks or individual schemes at this stage.

Cllr Allen said conserving and enhancing East Devon’s unique landscape was a high priority, and was the background against which other vital considerations - like housing and employment - would be agreed.

“We know the countryside and seaside are vitally important to residents,” he added.